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Two little countries get welcomed to big clubs

PANAMA ON SECURITY COUNCIL: A two-week stalemate ends when Venezuela and Guatemala drop out.

Published November 8, 2006


UNITED NATIONS - They've been voting for more than two weeks, but Panama finally won a seat on the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday. It was secured on the 48th ballot after Guatemala and Venezuela dropped out.

Panama got 164 votes in the 192-member U.N. General Assembly to win a two-year term starting Jan. 1 on the U.N.'s most powerful body. Venezuela got 11 votes, Guatemala 4 and Barbados 1.

The race for the council seat, which began Oct. 16, became highly political because of the U.S. support for Guatemala and President Hugo Chavez's speech at the General Assembly in September in which he called President Bush "the devil." A number of countries said Chavez's comments hurt Venezuela.

Guatemala led Venezuela in all but one of the first 47 ballots, but couldn't muster the 120 votes needed to win. The standoff was the third-longest battle for a seat on the Security Council in the U.N.'s 61-year history.

Panama's election was virtually assured last week when the foreign ministers of Guatemala and Venezuela met and agreed to withdraw in favor of the Central American nation.

The record number is 155 rounds of voting, set in 1980. The General Assembly gave up on Cuba and Colombia after 154 rounds, and chose Mexico on the 155th, in early January of that year.

[Last modified November 8, 2006, 02:17:28]

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